Fraud in the News

Fraud isn't child's play

A former Harvard computer lab manager has been accused of stealing $80,000 from the school to buy Lego toy sets, televisions, iPads and other goods for his personal use, according to the Metro article, Ex-Harvard employee busted for stealing $80K from university to buy Legos, Apple products, by Cristabelle Tumola on Sept. 24.

According to the article, Shawn Bunn, 44, who'd worked at Harvard for 17 years, allegedly used a Harvard University-issued credit card for four years to make unapproved purchases. Bunn allegedly submitted false receipts to the school that were "inconsistent with the items that he bought," according to Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan.

The article states that Bunn was arraigned on charges of larceny, false entry in corporate books and uttering of forged documents in connection with the allegations.

An uncharitable fraud

The trust that manages the $41 billion endowment of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is suing Brazil's Petróleo Brasileiro SA and its auditor, according to The Wall Street Journal article, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust Sues Petrobras, Auditor for Fraud, by Will Connors on Sept. 27.

According to the article, the trust claims that a vast corruption scheme centered on the state-run oil company caused the charitable organization to lose tens of millions of dollars. The lawsuit, filed against Petrobras and the Brazilian unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), alleges that corruption at the oil company was so widespread as to be "institutional" and that wrongdoing was "willfully ignored" by its auditor.

The article states that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joins a long list of plaintiffs seeking to recoup money they lost as the scandal heavily impacted the value of their investments in Petrobras shares. According to the article, Petrobras has long maintained it was a victim of a yearslong bid-rigging and bribery ring that Brazilian prosecutors say was cooked up by suppliers and a few crooked insiders who fleeced the oil company for at least $2 billion.

According to the article, the lawsuit states, "The depth and breadth of the fraud within Petrobras is astounding. By Petrobras' own admission, the kickback scheme infected over $80 billion of its contracts, representing approximately one-third of its total assets. Equally breathtaking is that the fraud went on for years under PwC's watch, who repeatedly endorsed the integrity of Petrobras' internal controls and financial reports."

'Das Auto' ... Auf Wiedersehen

According to the Sept. 28 CNN Money article, German prosecutors probe former Volkswagen CEO for fraud, by Mark Thompson, German prosecutors have begun a criminal investigation into Martin Winterkorn, the former CEO of Volkswagen, after the automaker admitted rigging pollution tests on millions of diesel vehicles.

Winterkorn resigned on Sept. 23, just days after the company admitted to U.S. regulators that it had programed nearly 500,000 vehicles to emit far fewer harmful gases in official tests than in normal road driving.

According to the article, the state prosecutor said in a statement, "The investigation will focus on allegations of fraud in the sale of vehicles with manipulated exhaust emissions."